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Paw Patrol, Seoul Edition? Pet-owner teams monitor neighborhood safety on daily walks

The Seoul Dog Patrol Program is a voluntary citizen initiative where teams of dogs and their owners are appointed to watch for and report any suspected safety risks to authorities while going on walks in their neighborhood. Dog owners who sign up for the program have to undergo screening, followed by training on safety precautions and what to look out for during patrols.

Organized by the Seoul Metropolitan Government, the initiative started in 2022 with just 64 teams. In 2023, the program grew to 1000+ teams, who carried out over 48,000 patrol activities and reported more than 2,600 neighborhood safety risks — such as damaged facilities or people who appear to be intoxicated. The 2024 program kicked off this week with over 1,400 teams. This year, the goal is to expand to 2,000 teams and focus on preventing crime, ensuring the safety of women returning home late at night, and promoting responsible pet ownership.

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Citizen volunteer programs are not new. However, most require carving out dedicated time, while the Dog Patrol Program turns an existing daily routine into an opportunity to do good for one's community. Could your brand nudge consumers towards better habits by connecting to something they already do?

The Dog Patrol Program also highlights opportunities for pets to play a part beyond companionship. A 2023 study by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs found that 1 in 4 South Koreans own a pet, with dogs (75%) being the most popular option. Like the city of Seoul, brands could create new avenues expand their roles, making them a more integral part of society.